Top 14 Educational Movies that Prove Education Can Change the World

What the world needs now – and always – is great teachers and access to education. These educational movies prove just that.

For many people, movies are one of life’s greatest pleasures. You sit back with a pile of salty, hot popcorn, turn off the light, and dive into someone else’s universe without even leaving your home. For a couple of hours, you laugh and you cry. If it’s a great movie, by the time the lights are turned back on and the popcorn has long been forgotten, you walk away with an insight about yourself, the world or both. One of the best movie genres is movies about education. They prove what we see every day here at University of the People: Education can change the world.

14 Must-Watch Educational Movies

Ready to start watching? Here are thirteen spectacular movies to inspire you on your educational path.



1. Freedom Writers (2007)

Based on the true story of Erin Gruwell,  A young teacher that inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school. Starring Hilary Swank.



2. School of Rock (2003)

A heavy metal musician gets voted out of his own band and manages to land his roommate’s teaching job at a private school. He decides to create a new band – using the kids in his class – to win a competition against his old band. Starring Jack Black.


3. The Ron Clark Story (2006)

An inspiring tale of a young teacher who leaves his hometown to teach in a New York City public school. Through his passionate use of special rules for his classroom he is able to make a remarkable difference in the lives of his students. For one young girl trying to attend school while helping to raise her 3 siblings, he offers a chance for her to overcome her situation and become the top student of the class. Starring Matthew Perry.


4. Precious (2009)

The odds are stacked against an African-American teenager, who’s already pregnant with her second child, and can’t even read or write. But when she gets accepted into an alternative school, a teacher and a nurse set out to help her turn her life around.


5. Music of the Hearts (1999)

A violin teacher who finds it hard to get a job creates one for herself, by building a music program in an inner-city Harlem school. Based on a true story.


6. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

A composer takes a job as a music teacher to make ends meet and ends up falling in love with the profession. But can he connect with his deaf son the same way he connects with his students?



7. Dangerous Minds (1995)

An ex-marine gets a temporary job teaching at a poverty-stricken school. Due to the students’ lack of enthusiasm for her arrival, she uses very unexpected methods to get them to trust her. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer.


8. Stand and Deliver (1988)

A tough teacher insists on keeping his low socioeconomic students from dropping out. He changes their lives by teaching them advanced math. Based on a true story.


9. Lean on Me (1989)

A tyrant new principal enters the worst school in New Jersey. His job: Get drug dealing kids’ test scores up, so the local school board doesn’t lose control of the school to the state. His reward, if he succeeds? Lasting fame and never getting fired.


10. Dead Poets Society (1989)

The year is 1959, and a teacher who tears pages from books sets out to inspire a love of poetry in his prep school students. His attitude and fresh perspective have a deep impact on his students’ lives.


11. To Sir with Love (1967)

An engineer who finds himself out of a job takes a job as a teacher in the slums of East London. But his students have a plan to destroy him and chase him away, just as they did to their previous teacher.


12. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Until now, they each hung out in different cliques. But now, stuck in detention together during the weekend, with a tough principal to keep an eye on them, they share their personal stories, manage to see each other beyond stereotypes, and discover they’re not that different after all.


13. Summer School (1987)

A teacher is all set to head off to Hawaii for his summer vacation when his vice principal makes him cancel it and teach summer school to a bunch of teenagers who don’t want to learn. When bribing, the students doesn’t work, he starts to get to know them and connect with them.


14. The Miracle Worker (1962)

Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree. She was also an author, a lecturer and a political activist. But the road there wasn’t easy. The movie tells the real-life story of how her teacher, Anne Sullivan, managed to teach her to communicate.


In Educational Movies and in Real Life, Education is Key to World Peace and Global Economic Development

Anne Sullivan did what few believed she could do as Helen Keller’s teacher. It was incredible and inspiring. Like her, teachers around the world perform miracles for students every day.


Here at the University of the People, we believe that education is critical for individual transformation and social change. It encourages deeper understanding, respect and tolerance for others, and gives people the skills and tools to make a positive impact on the economy while growing personally and creating better lives for themselves.


That’s why our mission is to make sure anyone has access to an affordable, quality university – including tuition-free and scholarships – regardless of their place of birth or life circumstances.

"My degree will provide me with the knowledge I desire to train people in my community."

Thomas Odey Francis

Computer Science Student, Nigeria

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